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Washington 12, Grover Norquist 10, Us 8, Grover 7, Obama 7, America 4, Unitedhealthcare 4, Et Cetera 3, Greece 3, Msnbc 3, Warfarin 3, Derrell 3, Mitch Mcconnell 2, Brennan 2, Romney 2, Dyson 2, Bob 2, Ben 2, Geico 2, Emily Jo 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    November 26, 2012
    9:00 - 10:00am PST  

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billion over the holiday weekend, according to the national retail federation. so for the average american shopper that means spending about $423, which is 25 bucks more than people spent at this time last year. meanwhile, overall sales from november to december are expected to rise by 4%. but don't go popping the champagne yet. david coat, the honeywell ceo who met with president obama during that business leader summit last week says that the looming fiscal cliff is already impacting his business. >> right now i'm not that bullish at all. in fact i'd say there's a great uncertainly that's just hanging over the entire economy because we're not confident that our guys can govern anymore. people like me just aren't hiring because we're not confident they can do it. >> well, the white house echoed that concern this morning. a new report says failing to act on the president's plan for middle class americans would freeze the economic recovery. obama's plan includes lower taxes on the first $250,000
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earned by every american and tweaking the alternative minimum tax. the white house report estimates that consumer spending would fall by $200 million. now that's more than three times what consumers spent just over this entire holiday weekend. there could be a drag on a range of industries from cars and housing to restaurants and supermarkets, if congress can't reach a deal. and look, pocketbook issues are not the only problem here. carl levin, the democratic senator and chair of the armed services committee said automatic cuts to government spending could impact public safety. >> i think you should be worried if you have a defense job and we all ought to be worried whether we are dependent upon other aspects of the federal budget. whether we're worried about the regulation of our food safety, whether we're worried about our borders being secure, whether we're worried about fbi being supported, it's all affected by sequestration. >> joining me now, cnbc washington reporter eamon javers. you heard the numbers we just
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ran down. what is the short-term tangible consequence if we don't get action on the fiscal cliff. >> cote is right, it does cause uncertainly. life is uncertain and so they know that there's going to be this issue and that washington is going to wrestle with it. in the short term, the very short term, i think actually some of the hype around the fiscal cliff is a little overblown, particularly because the first couple of days or week or so after we go over the fiscal cliff we won't see all that many impacts. all these tax and spending impacts take months to go into effect. it doesn't impact the economy until people start paying taxes, which could be several months down the line for most americans. on the spending side as well, spending is built into the cake so again you'd be looking at stuff that would be impacting the out months. for the first couple of months, no real specific impact. the big thing to worry about is whether wall street freaks out or not about the fact that we've gone over the fiscal cliff.
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if they do freak out, that could have an impact and cause a recession because of the wall street impact. >> and the premise of your analysis there is that we're looking at late deal or early deal. nobody really thinks that there will never be a deal. and so what you're saying, what, if it was three weeks out or late january or after the inauguration, we'd still have, something is that it? >> yeah in, my take, and i disagree with some people on this, my take is we go right up to the last minute before there's a deal because washington lives on the last minute. they can't do anything without being prompted to do it. they love a crisis and will get a crisis this winter. the question is whether we actually go over the fiscal cliff for a couple of days or week or so before we get that deal. by allowing those bush tax cuts to expire, a lot of liberals say, hey, wait a second, let them expire. it happens automatically. we don't have to do anything and we get what we want. so there's a tactical reason for some people in washington to want to go over that cliff. i think that makes it more
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likely than not that we'll get right up to the edge if not go over. >> eamon, you said washington loves a crisis. they also love a sequel. professor dyson, one of the arguments in the report out from the white house today is that people are going to use this problem and look at these tax uncertainties, as eamon said, and hold back on spending. do you think that's realistic for the average american worker? >> it's interesting. there's been an interesting bifurcation. you know, higher income people have been a bit testy so they don't want to really put their feet in that water. but people with less to lose, have more to spend, so they end up saying, look, about $68, a little bit less than what this average was a year ago. so i think they're right to be concerned about the perception, because the perception means a lot in life in general, but in the economy, i'm not an economist, but i look at this, you know, i'm uncertain, i'm nervous. go see dr. freud. the anxiety is incredible. but the reality is, is that the
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perception drives the market in a way that it doesn't do so empirically with other things so i think, yes, there's a big concern there and i think they're right to be concerned about the act. >> one reason you've seen this split personality is because the fed has been stimulating -- they have been doing a lot of bond buying, which is bringing the stock markets up. it's had some effect on the housing market and that's one reason consumers have been optimistic. companies are looking at the longer term growth picture. they're looking at does washington work and seeing the big headwinds coming from europe and china and hoping we get our act together. >> i want to bring in morning money ben who has money in his name. paul krugman sounded a different note today in the "times" and is talking about this idea that cutting deficits is a number one priority.
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he writes supposedly any day now investors will lose faith in america's ability to come to grips with its budgets failures. when they do there will be a run on treasury bonds, interest will spike and the u.s. economy will plunge back into recession. this sounds plausible to many people because it's roughly speaking what happened to greece but we're not greece. he's saying while this is a real dynamic for some countries, it is not because of the way we fund ourselves, is that right, ben? >> that's right. i would say morning munnize not actually by given name. >> i didn't know that. >> he's right, we're not greece, we're a much larger economy. we can grow our way out of debts and deficits. we've got a ginormous economy. we had a huge black friday weekend. probably $600 billion for the total shopping over the holidays. the question is, as we get close and getting into december, if it looks like talks are breaking
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down and we have the same old lines on no tax increases for the wealthy versus no spending cuts at all on the left on social security or medicare, then you get people getting nervous. the markets get service, the markets sell off, we have a problem. if we go into january and there's the basic broad outlines of a deal that we can retroactively fix some of these tax rates, extend unemployment benefits, if that is the general tenor of things going into december we'll be fine and we'll get a deal in january and go ahead. but if it's more of the same politics as usual, you're going to see spending get cut down. people are going to get nervous and businesses are concerned about the long-term outlook. >> let me bring back eamon on that point. do the markets care when you see the ceos and some of the wealthier people, including warren buffett today in the "times" saying, look, we have got to raise revenues by raising some taxes on wealthy individuals. we saw that from both buffet and radner, very prom negligent well-known financiers but ultimately endorsing what sounds
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like the obama position. do the markets look to those steps the way we do in politics and say this is more likely to get done or does it not work that way? >> look, the market is hanging on every single development in these negotiations. a couple of days ago leaders came out of the white house and said they had a pretty conciliatory meeting and everything seemed hunky dory at least in that one meeting and the market boomed. people are watching and waiting to see what's happened here. you've got a split on wall street. there are those folks who don't want to see tax increases no matter what under any circumstances ever. and then you have other folks like lloyd blankfein who said they don't mind tax increases on the wealthy as long as it helps us to get to a deal. so there are really two camps emerging on wall street. and where that goes i think will play a big role in where republicans go on this debate. you've seen a bunch of republicans break with grover norquist on this anti-tax
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pledge. now, whether you see some equivalent movement on the democratic and liberal side on entitlement reform, that's where the key to the deal will be. >> eamon, we'll get to grover. i want to go to jody first on the idea of wealthier people paying their share. as the obama campaign and obama white house, do you think they have found the right balance on messaging about their millionaire friends who are willing to pay more? >> they're certainly more successful than they were during the debt negotiations in the summer of 2011. some democrats are saying, it's okay, we can go over the fiscal cliff, things will be easier for us that way. i'm not sure if that's true when you look at the president. the president has such a rare chance here. the debt ceiling crisis was the nadear of the obama administration. he had come to washington to unify the city and yet he couldn't get republicans and democrats to sit down and agree to a common sense agreement. he has the chance to do that now. there is a developing consensus to raise taxes in washington.
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that is so rare, it hasn't happened in decades. for the president, i think he has to make good on that opportunity. >> right. and you think the time is now. >> i just don't see how going -- first of all, more importantly going over the fiscal cliff could hurt a lot of americans. but i think it could also hurt the president. >> eamon, javers, i want to say thank you very much for joining us today. >> thank you. >> after the break, who is pulling the strings? we will look at the key players in the budget negotiations, to famous polls and some of the people behind the scenes. and are some republicans ready to cut ties? we'll discuss next on "now." having you ship my gifts couldn't be easier. well, having a ton of locations doesn't hurt. and a santa to boot! [ chuckles ] right, baby. oh, sir. that is a customer. oh...sorry about that.
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grover norquist's famous anti-tax pledge has of course ruled washington for over two decades, but recently it has taken a hit. several republican lawmakers are backing off the pledge. take a conservative senator from georgia, he tried to put some distance between grover's past and the country's future. >> that pledge i signed 20 years ago was valid then. it's valid now, but times have changed significantly and i care more about this country than i do about a 20-year-old pledge. >> that spurred more talk of defections yesterday. >> i will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country only if democrats will do entitlement reform. >> i would be very much opposed to raising tax rates, but i do believe we can close a lot of loopholes. >> i agree with saxby chambliss.
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a pledge you sign 20 years ago, 18 years ago is for that congress. if i were in 1941, i would have signed a support of declaration of war against japan. i'm not going to attack japan today. the world has changed. >> grover's defections likely bring some hope to john boehner, the man in charge of actually negotiating this deal with the president. after the election, the speaker did say increased revenues were acceptable if coupled with entitlement reform. but will it be supported in the house? that's where grover is seen as more of a legend than a lobbyist. some are signaling the tax debate does not start and end with this old pledge. eric cantor, who was adamant last time about opposing any revenue increase hit that note on msnbc just this morning. >> there's a lot that has been said about this pledge, and i will tell you when i go to the constituents that have re-elected me, it is not about that pledge, it really is about trying to solve problems.
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john boehner went to the white house ten days ago and said republicans in the house were willing to put revenues on the table. that was a big move. >> by the standards of republican politics, ben, that was a big move. and eric cantor is doing something pretty important there. i just want to say before we go into all of the nitty-gritty details, tell us about what it means for eric cantor to basically reposition this conversation away from grover norquist, who as i said is something of a hero to house republicans. >> he is. i think it's important to note that grover norquist has not always been completely against all revenues. they're moving in terms of putting revenue on the table that's not marginal increases. i think grover gets a little bit of a bad rap on being an opponent to anything that involves anything in any way. i don't think they're distancing that much on that topic. but it is a move for republicans who have admitted we need to raise more revenue. the question is how. can we do it by eliminating mortgage deductions, by
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charitable deductions, by capping the number of deductions. democrats so far say that's not good enough. we need to take that top rate, let it go back up to 39.6. somewhere in there there has to be an agreement on both raise revenue and how do you do it. >> this is interesting because therein lies the argument for going over the fiscal cliff from a strategic pointing of view. it would be if you did that a couple of weeks, it would make it republicans say okay we'll keep the higher taxes on the rich and bring them down for the middle class. it recreates a reset. >> if you get the campaign ad or attack that says you literally broke this pledge. but the counterpunch here has been not only that we're not in world war ii, as we heard, but what can grover do if there's an overwhelming public desire, as we've seen, to get something done. here's what alan simpson said just last week. he said what can grover norquist do to you? he can't murder you. he can't burn your house.
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jodi, the fact checkers have looked at that and it is true. it is a true statement that he cannot nor has he pledged to murder anyone, but it speaks to how the republican base feels about these issues. we know from the bush aera, you send people to washington, you ask them to do one thing, cut taxes and spending and they don't do it because the bush era clearly ballooned the deficit. that's why there's such heated rhetoric here. do you see less fear among these folks toward grover? >> i think what we're seeing is a desire for republicans to find their answer to one of the great questions of our age, which is that all of our leaders right now have a responsibility in one way or another to say to us, to give us the bitter medicine of saying we're all going to pay more in the future, we're all going to get less. that is the truth, it's been the truth for years, everybody knows it. norquist has to find a way to
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deliver that message. everybody has to find a way in washington to deliver that message. that, by the way, is why i think you also see the tone of this debate changing a little bit. there was some not in my backyardism that came out over the weekend where people are beginning to say yes, yes, yes, we have to do the difficult thing but not my difficult thing. >> it's amazing how clarifying defeat is. you know, the transformation on the mount is amazing because grover norquist now has to deal with the fact that the disciples are coming down saying, lord, we cannot fix this way. what does it come by fasting and praying. the republican version is we're going to concede just a little bit. grover norquist is not jesus. he is not going to speak from some mount and give us the ten commandments. and alan simpson is wonderful. he can't murder you, he can't burn down your house, he can't even blow down it hard. so the reality is you've got to make adjustments in the face of the american people's sentiment
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being, look, everybody's got to pitch in. aren't we americans? economic patriotism means everybody has to tighten the belt a little bit. >> i think it's interesting that you use the religious language there because grover norquist was on tv today saying rinse are having impure thoughts on raising taxes. a note of caution on all grover norquist deniers on tv. it's easy for lindsey graham and saxby chambliss to get on tv. but when it comes down to the actual vote, that's a lot harder for republicans to do, especially in the house of representatives where they can get a primary in 2014, get a lot of republicans up who could face tea party primaries. this is a small group that's jumped off the grover bridge. i'm not sure it's going to spread to everyone. >> i'm glad you mentioned that. to accurately reflect where grover is coming from, it is true that in the "wall street journal" this weekend he said, look, there are about five republican who say get quoted by the media all the time up
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against me where his numbers are 219 house members, 39 senators have signed. a couple may have dropped as we're reporting today, but his point is the media loves the narrative that there's a rebellion but it's not there. >> and if you look at what's happened at a granular level in the house, the number of crossover districts has gone down since the election. so in some ways house republicans have less reason to reach across the aisle. so i'm -- i'm being a little skeptical right now. >> you have to drive the stake into grover norquist's heart before you can declare it done. >> to get back to jesus, peter is standing there denying him three times and going on to become a great figure. maybe you're right. maybe all the grover deniers when they come to the voting may stick with him. i'm a bit skeptical as well but the pressure has to be put. if you're using the analogy of japan in 1941. dude, update your analogy so we can get a better sense of what's
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going on historically. >> i appreciate that. i appreciate the dude. that's how you know he's serious. we'll talk more about this because coming up we look at the compromise and whether it is off the map in congress. is common ground essentially a no man's land? we'll discuss the latest location of moderation in washington ahead. christine osborn wants you to shop small. the owner of wonder works, a charleston, south carolina, based toy store believes in cooperation instead of competition. she has a section dedicated to locally made products to make sure that her customers' dollars stay local. for more watch "your business" sunday mornings on msnbc.
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add this to the list of things we thought you should know. vice president biden got even cooler over the holiday weekend, literally, with waters at a chilly 50 degrees. the vice president jumped in the ocean off nantucket on thanksgiving morning. it was part of the annual cold turkey plunge, an event benefitting nantucket's children's library. of course not all lawmakers may be as fearless as the vice president. coming up, we'll look at some
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poll who say may not be ready to take the plunge together. why relationships between republicans and democrats are on thin ice next on "now." sfx- "sounds of african drum and flute" look who's back. again? it's embarrassing it's embarrassing! we can see you carl. we can totally see you. come on you're better than this...all that prowling around. yeah, you're the king of the jungle. have you thought about going vegan carl? hahaha!! you know folks who save hundreds of dollars by
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what does it take to get a deal done in washington these days? well, it's hard for lawmakers to agree on little things, let alone a tax and spending deal that could define the role of government for the next decade. but some republicans are signaling that after this month's election it's time to give a little. >> i think we have to have a bigger tent, no doubt about it. and obviously we have to do immigration reform. there is no doubt whatsoever that the demographics are not on our side. and as far as young women are concerned, absolutely. i don't think anybody like me, i can state my position on abortion, but to -- other than that, leave the issue alone. >> immigration, abortion and
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revenues. that is a lot of potential compromise for the gop. after watching some of its most polarizing figures lose this month from richard mourdock, republicans may wants to seem reasonable. but will they partner up on a big piece of bipartisan legislation. rana, i want to go right to you. people forget for all the controversies we have, in obama's first term, the stimulus, health care, these things weren't just vocally opposed, they garnered almost zero republican votes. second terms could be different. will this one be? >> i wish i could be more optimistic. you have had some moderate voices coming out. you've had smart people have sort of these come to jesus columns saying we've got to change. >> or on immigration, come to jesus. >> but if you look at the pew exit polling, you see most republicans want the party to go further right. democrats want to meet in the
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middle, but i think as long as you have the sort of far right element pulling everybody else that way, it's going to be problematic. >> ben, doesn't that go to the comparison people always make to the reagan bipartisan deal, which was a second-term deal with a democratic speaker. here's the thing about that. we live in more polarized times today, and the reagan tax plan, as much as it celebrated, was ultimately largely revenue neutral, right? we are in a situation today with a different economy as you were discussing earlier in the show where it can't be revenue neutral. so it will be politically more difficult, plus more polarized. >> we also had reagan and tip o'neill who liked to hang out at the white house together and have drinks together. i don't see that now. i don't see the president and speaker boehner hanging out hashing out a deal. they tried that a little bit the last time. it didn't work. >> this is a style point, but they never even look that happy to be in the same room. >> exactly. and we had some tea partiers lose in the house of representatives, no question about that.
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is that going to lead to an era of good feelings where there's less pressure on republicans in the house to hold the line on taxes, on immigration and other things? i don't think so. i think that stays as polarized as it was. the senate probably moves left so you've got more pressure to hold the line on social security and medicare and not making any significant changes, not raising the retirement age, not means testing or doing any of that stuff on the left. you've got primaries in 2014. we talk about second terms. look to the clinton second term. the economy boomd aed and they impeached the president. >> i want to play one thing from two retiring senators. having worked in the senate, i don't always think the retiring folks give the full reasons why why they're leaving so partisanship can become an easy default one, but let's take a listen to this. >> i think congress is reflecting the nation. i think we are very divided, not in the goal but in how we get
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there and i think america is too. >> partisanship has gone to extreme here, but even more is a word that's come up, the unwillingness to compromise. if you approach every issue saying i will not vote for this unless i get 100% of what i want, in the end you get 0%. >> jodi, is that why people are leaving? >> that's why people say they're leaving, but things change invesvery fast. we should point out may, june, 2010, let's rewind. president obama wanted more than anything else to do some immigration reform. said many times republicans used to support this, we need to do it. this is just a practical, common sense solution, et cetera, et cetera. didn't happen. he just didn't have any republican partners. now that consensus is developing. so i do think that -- you know, i think that things can change very fast on capitol hill. the question that i had on my mind when you were talking a second ago about taking on big
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initiatives, the one i think about is climate change and energy legislation. we see some consensus on fiscal issues and some on immigration. what i wonder about is the climate and energy stuff when you still have a house of representatives where a lot of people just don't believe in global warming. i don't know how you get to a deal on that. >> let me pick up on that. you mentioned climate change and the dream act. of course the democrats and president obama had a majority on the dream act and passed it in the house. it was only that it was filibustered, right? so when does that fury over a system that gives you majorities but not legislation, when does that get into this mix? >> i'm not sure that abates. the animus that drove the hostility and resistance of the president is still present. look at the laundry list john mccain gave you. immigration reform and abortion. yeah, you got that black vote on lock, don't you. and look, because they want to continue tone gauge in voter suppression. now let me just put that on the
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table. the reason african-american people are not seen as a likely vote rich demography is because the republicans are engaged in the direct renuns yags of historic lentiling from the civil rights community that protects the value of that black vote. not only black vote but people in southern regions and older people and the like. so there's tremendous tension still afoot here and this is the big elephant in the room. obama is still a black guy and there is still a lot of resentment. i can't tell you the hate mail i get just from making comments that look like they might think that obama is a reasonable person and the hostility is so deep that i'm afraid that it's also reflected in certain elements of the political class as well. >> but one thing we don't know yet, i think, is what the republican strategy is. because last time after 2008, it was very clear they announced that they just wanted to oppose everything the president did. mitch mcconnell was extremely open about it, gave quotes in the newspaper about it. this time we don't really know
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if there's one sort of clear long-term unified strategy on the part of republicans, whether they have gotten there yet or it's a more piecemeal strategy. >> i guess i'm taking my signals from history. when you get defeated openly in terms of these racial gerrymandering. i don't believe mitch mcconnell doesn't want to make him a -- well, he can't make him a one-term president. i'm just suggesting that in all the big debates we have, we don't deal with the substance of public policy consequences of that resistance which have an impact upon black people that are not often talked about in these kinds of debates. that's what i think is very problematic. >> do you see any issue like voter suppression where the ideas around justice actually motivate a backlash that's useful politically? because that's one thing that we saw happen. >> right, exactly. it was -- it back fired on them. it galvanized those communities.
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but i think it's still the same issue. when you have midterm elections coming up, people are much -- paying much far less attention to what happens with the kind of practices and procedures that get put out. so i don't think it's another thing, i think it's the continuation of the voter suppression, but in a far more subtle way. >> okay. we're going to pick some of that back up. i also want to think rana from "time" magazine from being here today. after the break, a top-secret program operating in broad daylight. there is new scrutiny over the administration's drone strikes and why they worried what president romney might do with that program. an important segment. stay with us, next. [ emily jo ] derrell comes into starbucks with his wife, danielle, almost every weekend. derrell hasn't been able to visit his mom back east in a long time. [ shirley ] things are sometimes a little tight around the house. i wasn't able to go to the wedding. [ emily jo ] since derrell couldn't get home, we decided to bring home to him and then just gave him
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front lines, they're on stage as a world famous boy band. ♪ singing and dancing, protecting our nation ♪ ♪ drones are a necessary evil >> that was saturday night live's take on the not so secret u.s. drone program. "the new york times" reported this weekend on a secret plan by the white house to draft a new set of guidelines on how the program would work if mitt romney were elected. we'll look at the renewed controversy over one of america's worst-kept secrets next, on "now."
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this weekend "the new york times" reported the obama administration has begun drafting more specific rules for how drones are used for the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. some obama officials were even worry bed how their top-secret program might be used by a
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romney administration. the drone attacks here are controversial because the obama administration has not published standards for how it selects their targets, which have included american citizens. that secretive approach is at odds with a commitment that obama made during his first campaign for the presidency when he advocated the rights of due process for all, even accused terrorists. >> if the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask why was i grabbed and say maybe you've got the wrong person. you know, the reason you have that safeguard is because we don't always have the right person. you may think it's barack the bomb thrower, but it might be barack, the guy running for president. >> today there's no public process to determine whether the right people are targeted under the drone program. and drone attacks have increased substantially during obama's
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first term. in 2008 there were 36 strikes in pakistan, according to new america foundation, which is a rough estimate. by 2010 there were 122. and so far this year there have been 43. in yemen, drones have been used to kill suspected terrorists, including an american citizen as young as 16 years old. according to reports on the ground. but in order to shield this program from any oversight, the president's lawyers still say the entire drone program is a state secret and that it may not even exist. human rights groups say that claim is absurd and that even if drone killings are a legitimate tool for counterterrorism, the law requires disclosure and accountability for the program. the aclu has taken that argument to federal court where it's suing the cia to release more information. joining us now, a key lawyer in that very case, the national deputy legal director for the aclu. thank you for being here. first let's look at the revelations in this "new york times" article. the white house is concerned about how a future president,
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president romney, would operate this program and sought to write secret rules, nothing public, which you say in your lawsuit is required under the law, but secret rules to govern it. what is the meaning of those secret rules and would they automatically govern a future administration? >> first, i think they're right to be worry bed how a future administration has used these powers. they have carved out these very broad powers, essentially the authority to kill anyone who is deemed by the executive branch, deemed by the president to be a threat to national security can be killed without due process, can be killed without charges, without disclosure of the evidence, and in fact can be killed without even an acknowledgement by the government that the person has been killed by the cia or by the joint special operations command. so that's a very broad power and i think they're right to be worried about how the next administration or the administration after that will use it. but i think independent of the question of what the standards are, there's this other issue whichlluded to of how much
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the public knows or how little the public knows about what the standards are. >> exactly. let me stop you right there and i want to convey what the administration says about this. we showed barack obama saying of course you want to kill terrorists but if you don't have a process to make sure you've got the right guy, you could get the wrong guy. it was so powerful to hear senator obama say you might get barack the bomb thrower about how targeting works. let's play what john brennan says about how this program works and why it's good. >> with the unprecedented ability of remotely piloted aircraft to precisely target a military objective while minimizing collateral damage, one could argue that never before has there been a weapon that allows us to distinguish more effectively between an al qaeda terrorist and innocent civilians. >> that is the defense of the obama administration today. in essence that this program is so targeted it saves civilian lives. what do you say to that in your
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case? >> well, i think it's very hard to assess that kind of claim without more information. information that the administration refuses to release. it's very easy for administration officials to make claims like this when there's no possibility that they're going to be held to account for the claims, no possibility that some court is going to order them to disclose information, no possibility that they'll be sksd foll -- asked follow-up questions. part of the reason we are in court asking judges to enforce the freedom of information act, asking judges to disclose more information is to allow the public to better assess the kinds of claims that the administration is now making, usually through unnamed officials in leaks to favored media. >> jodi, do you think this is the area where we've seen perhaps the most movement from candidate obama's commitments to president obama's tenure? >> you know, i don't know if
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it's the most, but i guess what str strikes me is that there isn't really consensus within the administration about how to do this. as my colleague reported, one of the reasons this manual is so hard to write is that there is genuine debate inside and outside. are drones a way of saving american lives, of very precisely targeting america's enemies, as brennan said on tv, or as brennan, i believe, has also said in internal debates, are there serious moral concerns about the use of air strikes. do they provoke backlash, et cetera, et cetera. the answers to these questions are not fully known and one of the reasons you can't lay out a guide book in one afternoon in the white house is that there's so much debate about how this program should run. >> professor dyson, where do you come down on this? >> well, it is a huge gulf between candidate obama and president obama. now, some people are going to cut him some slack and say, look, it's one thing when you're
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running because you don't have the daily intel, you don't have the daily briefings, you don't know where a likely strike is to occur. on the other hand, if the rules that you abide by while candidating and arguing that you should be the president don't apply to you once you become president, then you've got to excuse everybody from george bush back to whoever. i think there's a real tension here and i think the aclu and progressive groups are right to apply the pressure. the question is to what degree can you acknowledge the legitimacy of a response to terror, even perhaps using surgical strikes or some of the drones and at the same time say, hey, that stuff has gotten out of hand and we have to figure out a way to get back in. and if you say sunshine is the law, that you want people to be exposed, then you're practicing directly contrary to what you've argued. >> i want to read briefly from an article. there was concern that the levers in the drone program might no longer be in our hands,
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said one obama official. with a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, mr. obama did not want to leave an amorphous program to his successor, the official said. the effort, which would have been rushed to completion by january had mr. romney won will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said. jameel, are you surprised if the "times" is accurate, we have anonymous obama officials basically admitting that the program and the schedule for a future republican president is different than the standards they hold to themselves? that's basically what they admit there. >> i'm not surprised at all. i think that any president would want the kind of power that this president has claimed. but we have these checks and balances. we have the courts, we have congress, precisely because of that. precisely because presidents are going to claim more authority than the constitution allows them to, more authority than makes sense in our democracy, and you need to have checks and balances to ensure that the president who's in office now
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doesn't abuse these powers and you need to have checks and balances tone sure that the next president and the president after that don't abuse these powers. >> i'm glad you highlighted that piece of the article in "the new york times" because i was reading it and that phrase jumped out at me. we're going to do it at a more leisurely pace. why should who wins the election determine how is the proper way to use drones to kill people. the american people need to know who's being killed in their name and how that's being decided. i was very surprised that they would go on the record or at least anonymously and say now the pressure is off, we can just continue this program. we don't have to come up with these standards and explanations to the american people because we won the election. that's not the way power is supposed to work. >> you know, i don't know what was so striking about that clip you played about then candidate obama talking about this program was the tone, right? the lightly mocking, kind of
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sarcastic tone. don't we at least have the right to know, et cetera, et cetera. that kind of tone is unimaginable now from the administration, right? you could almost say it's unpresidential. the administration has stressed again and again the incredibly high stakes of this kind of battle. and so part of what i think we're seeing and part of the issue of this guide book is that whoever is not in the presidency has so little knowledge, right? when obama was running in 2008, there hadn't been a democrat at the wheel since 2001, since the september 11th attacks. this whole program was developed under republicans. and so that's why the idea of trying to create one guide book for everybody seems so interesting and also so hard. >> right. and part of the aclu case, which is interesting because it fits so perfectly with what the administration claims to be doing is you want to have a public mechanism to look at what the guide book says and what
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kind of oversight we have. we have to leave it there. i thank you for coming in and telling us a little bit about your work and i want to thank everyone on the panel. thanks to alex for letting me hold down the 4fort. that is all for now. alex returns to her post at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific. don't miss it. until then, you can follow us on twitter @nowwithalex. andrea mitchell reports is next. good afternoon. coming up here, the latest on that so-called cliff with senator bob corker and sachbt house democratic leader jim clyburn. and the latest on the cease-fire. we have ambassador dennis ross and former national security adviser steve hadly. all that next and a lot more. join us next, only on msnbc. so. mom? who's mom? i'm the giants mascot. the giants don't have a mascot! ohhh! eat up! new jammin jerk chicken soup has tasty pieces of chicken
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approaching, a growing number of republicans are signaling they are willing to break that no-tax pledge. >> a pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago is for that congress. the world has changed and the economic situation is different. >> i will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if democrats will do entitlement reform. >> but what about house majority leader eric cantor? >> there's a lot that has been said about this pledge, and i will tell you when i go to the constituents that have re-elected me, it is not about that pledge, it really is about trying to solve problems. >> cabinet chuckle as u.n. ambassador susan rice defends her initial comments about benghazi. >> when discussing the attacks against our facilities in benghazi, i relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the